4 years ago
Admissions Advice

Do some colleges waitlist/reject overqualified applicants? If so, which ones should I be aware of?

I am wondering whether some colleges waitlist/rejects overqualified applicants. For instance, two years ago, UC Irvine, a lower tier UC waitlisted our top 10-15 students, but accepted students who weren't in that overqualified group. Is this a thing among colleges?


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3 answers

Accepted Answer
4 years ago[edited]

YES, this is a very normal occurrence at NEAR IVY private and public colleges because they want to protect their YIELD. Yield is the % of accepted students that actually matriculate into the college. It is well known that most elite colleges already know their applicants very well and their matriculation class profile for the last 10 or 20 years. They know who is most likely going to come if accepted and who isn't.

If a very smart applicant who is applying to all the IVYs applies to Tufts, Notre Dame, Emory, Georgetown, UVA, Michigan as safeties they have a high chance of getting into an IVY but rejected by some of the safety schools because those schools know that if they have all the checkboxes marked off to go to an IVY/Stanford/UChicago, they are not going to go to Tufts or Emory.

If all colleges accept all highly qualified candidates, then all the yields go down because top applicants get ZERO rejections to the 20 schools they apply to but only attend 1 (19 competing colleges lose yield value). And none of the colleges want low yields. Therefore IT IS in their best interest to reject many of the applicants to keep their acceptance rate as LOW AS POSSIBLE to keep their prestige factor up and simultaneously this PROTECTS their YIELD.

If you look at COLBY, why should their acceptance rate be 9% vs 20% which is less than Cornell, USC, and Berkeley? Is Colby that good? Not in my opinion. But it is well connected to all the Elite Private Prep Schools in the East Coast and one of the many Safety schools for top applicants. Colby knows that lots of Prep School kids are going to check off Colby as safety and not go because they want to get into an Ivy or at least a Willams, Amherst, Swarthmore, Bowdoin. They have no problem rejecting 91% of their applicants because it keeps the prestige factor sky-high. The class of 2005 at Colby had a 33% Admit rate in comparison.

If you need verification of this phenomenon watch about 20 random college acceptance videos from top students who get into Stanford and top Ivys. Many of them get rejected from Tufts and near Ivys and top liberal arts colleges because those colleges know that they are just safety schools to them.

SOON After I wrote this, I found a CV article on this topic and a list of all the schools that practice this.


Colleges know to practice yield protection

American University

Boston College

Boston University

Case Western Reserve University

Colby College

Franklin and Marshall

George Washington University

Grinnell College

Johns Hopkins University

Kenyon College

Lehigh University

New York University

Northeastern University

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rice University

Swarthmore College

Tulane University

Tufts University

University of California Davis

University of California Los Angeles

University of Chicago

University of Michigan

University of Southern California

Washington University in St. Louis

4 years ago[edited]


4 years ago

The logic that some safety schools may not send acceptance letters to high caliber students is not correct. These days colleges have sophisticated models that statistically predict the yield of students based on their academic profiles. On top of that they maintain waitlists to ensure full enrollment of their class. Therefore, don’t worry they will never reject a qualified student unless it is so obvious that it considers the universities a very safe bet and did not take the time to make a serious application. Good luck !

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